Last week, we looked at Denver’s most dangerous intersections for bikes. Getting around on two feet can leave you just as vulnerable, so this week we look at the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.
Spoiler alert: Seven out of the 10 intersections occur along “urban highways,” areas that Streetsblog Denver has noted are controlled by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
It’s not a coincidence that most of these streets have four lanes. Wisconsin Researcher Bob Schneider calls out such streets as dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.
Ultimately, these intersections are a snapshot of a bigger picture. Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Hancock promised a pedestrian crash analysis to go with the city’s commitment to reducing traffic deaths, so stay tuned.
Due to a three-way tie for seventh place, we start the top 10 list at 8. (More on methodology here.)
8. Colfax Avenue and Pennsylvania Street — 6 accidents in the intersection, 10 nearby
This intersection has a steady stream of accidents over time. Unlike many other intersections on this list, Colfax is the only street with more than two lanes in the intersection.
7. (Tie) S. Colorado Boulevard and E. Mississippi — 7 accidents in or near the intersection
Five out of the seven pedestrian-involved accidents here happened in the past two years. Heads up, drivers.
7. (Tie) S. Lincoln and Speer Boulevard — 7 accidents in or near the intersection
You may recognize this intersection as one of the 10 intersections with the most bike-involved accidents. Five since 2011. But as a pedestrian, I find this intersection even harder to use. When I want to cross Lincoln and walk up 6th Avenue, technically, I should follow the dotted crosswalks. Instead, I’m frequently cutting in front of both crosswalks.
7. (Tie) N. Federal Boulevard and W. 10th Avenue — 7 accidents in or near the intersection
Two pedestrian-involved accidents happened here in 2014 and another happened in January of this year. This intersection has four bus stops nearby, serving six different routes. Other amenities include an auto shop and a gas station.
6. 13th Avenue and Broadway — 7 accidents in the intersection, 10 total nearby
Happily, no pedestrian-involved accidents here since 2014. In addition to just being downtown, this area has two different bus stops serving 11 different routes, so that may bring more pedestrians to the area.
5. S. Federal Boulevard and W. Kentucky Avenue — 8 accidents in the intersection, 9 total nearby
Three of the nine total pedestrian-involved accidents happened within the last two years. Just crossing Federal seems to be dangerous; this is the second of three appearances that the boulevard makes on Denverite’s list.
4. S. Federal Boulevard and W. Florida Avenue — 9 accidents in the intersection
Drivers and walkers unite! This intersection is a hotspot for all crashes, with 78 total in the past four years, according to the city’s crash dashboard. On top of that, it’s about a mile away from another bad intersection for pedestrians. I wouldn’t touch this intersection with a 10 foot pole unless I was ok breaking that pole into a million little pieces.
3. Colfax Avenue and Broadway — 11 accidents in or near the intersection
Just a block down the street from an intersection with high numbers of bike-involved accidents, here’s an intersection that’s seen high numbers of pedestrian-involved accidents.
It’s a pretty busy area. Not only do the two nearest bus stops serve eight different routes, but nearby Civic Center Station serves 18. So there’s plenty of reasons this area would draw pedestrians, on top of the fact that it’s quite close to downtown.
Eight of the 11 incidents happened before 2015, so safely cross on.
2. Colfax Avenue, Franklin Street and Park Avenue — 11 accidents in the intersection, 12 total nearby
Half of the total accidents nearby happened in 2012. Still, there’s been at least one pedestrian-involved accident near this intersection in 2016.
1. 20th and Market Street — 13 accidents in the intersection, 20 nearby
Ten out of the 20 pedestrian-involved accidents have happened here in the past two years. An eleventh accident happened this year. If ever there was a time to stop, look and listen, this might be it.
On top of that, this intersection has several things happening. It could practically be Rorschach test for the armchair urban planner.
Could be that this intersection is so dangerous because it’s got two four-lane roads, which some link to higher fatal pedestrian accidents. Could be that it’s the nearby bars of LoDo, spilling unruly pedestrians into the path of cars, whose drivers might not be in the best shape either. (This snapshot of the data doesn’t show what times accidents happened.) Could be that it’s right next to the stadium, so you have a higher volume of people using this intersection.
Methodology and stray observations
I started with the city’s traffic accident data, which goes from 2011 until June 12 of this year. Then I found the pedestrian-involved accidents that happened within about 70 feet of each intersection.
Four intersections tied with seven accidents each. To break the ties, I expanded the search to include pedestrian-involved accidents within a maximum 225 feet of the intersection. In some cases, the distance was expanded less than that to avoid capturing pedestrian-involved accidents at other intersections. Those are characterized as nearby pedestrian-involved accidents.
Because this is the same methodology in my dangerous bike intersection analysis, I thought there would be more overlap between the dangerous pedestrian and bike intersections. There was only one intersection with a high level of pedestrian-involved accidents that also ranked high for bicycle-involved accidents.